UPDATE - 13.02.19
Volkswagen has confirmed a Geneva reveal for a "close-to-production" concept of its upcoming T-Roc R, along with the release of a new teaser image. Set to feature an "R-specific interior and exterior" with unique front and rear ends, the hot SUV has also been seen testing with the roof spoiler and quad exhausts we've come to expect from VW R products.
Nurburgring development has taken place at the hands of works driver Benjamin Leuchter, with input from Petter Solberg too, as VW looks to solidify the car's sporting credentials. What it will cost, and how exactly it will differentiate itself from its Cupra Ateca sibling, remains to be seen. Roll on Geneva.
ORIGINAL STORY - 29.01.2019
The product department at Volkswagen clearly doesn't sit still for long, as is evident from new advancements in the development of a T-Roc R. Recently caught on video testing at the Nurburgring, the hot T-Roc looks set to pinch running gear from the Golf R, including its 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor that produces 300hp.
Yes, that does essentially make it the Cupra Ateca's smaller group sibling, but Volkswagen's decision to stick an R badge on the T-Roc's boot backs earlier suggestions that this will actually be the more focused one. Chassis development boss Karsten Schebsdat and pro racer Benny Leuchter are providing the technical know-how in order to engineer a more agile, playful car - so company representatives have claimed - and their brief will have been to produce something worthy of VW's most sporting label.
It could be Leuchter himself behind the wheel of the recently sighted T-Roc R development mule at the Nordschleife, because it's being driven in the manner of a TCR racing driver: aka absolutely flat out. In the footage the engine and exhaust notes clearly come from VW's ubiquitous EA888 motor, while the damping, which is being worked hard over circuit bumps, looks to be another example of DCC hardware. The way the car stops and turns suggests the setup is nearing completion. Perhaps VW has a timed lap attempt in mind...
Insiders have previously told PH that Leuchter and Schebsdat, who worked together on the Golf GTI Clubsport S and new GTI TCR, were keen to dial out understeer and replace it with hot hatch-like rear-end adjustability. While performance crossovers aren't everyone's cup of tea, the VW Group's most recent products confirm it has a formula to produce good handling models. The T-Roc's slightly shorter wheelbase (compared with the Cupra Ateca) should lend it more natural agility.
Still, it would make sense that VW wouldn't want to tread on the toes of Cupra's first model, which, despite being slightly larger, might find itself closely priced to the T-Roc R. So when VW's model arrives later this year, expect it to be given comparably toned down styling, in order to ensure it appeals to a different sort of buyer. The spotted test car wears slightly different bumpers, a new roof spoiler and signature R quad exhausts to illustrate its pace.
Whatever your opinion of pepped-up crossovers, there's no denying this segment is quickly becoming one of the most competitive out there. Proof? Recent comments from Hyundai's N department suggest the T-Roc R might soon find itself rivalled by a new Kona N. Which, if the i30 N's anything to go by, could be quite entertaining.